Lady Gabriella March is the perfect domestic goddess--at least, that's what her editor at Milady magazine thinks! In truth she's simply Ellie March, cleaner and aspiring writer, who uses the beautiful mansion she is house-sitting to inspire her.
When the owner returns unexpectedly, Ellie's fledgling writing career is threatened. But even more dangerous is the man himself! Gorgeous Dr. Benedict Faulkner is quite the opposite of the aging academic she imagined, and soon it is her heart, and not just her secret, that is exposed....
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May 08, 2007
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Excerpt from The Secret Life of Lady Gabriella by Liz Fielding
Ellie's tongue was glued to the roof of her mouth. This was such a mistake. She wasn't a 'lady'. She shouldn't be here. She should own up right now--
"I apologise for keeping you waiting," Jennifer Cochrane continued, 'but there was a crisis at the printers I had to deal with."
Unable to speak, Ellie attempted an answering smile. Even in her borrowed clothes, hair swirled up in a sophisticated style and wearing more make-up than she'd normally wear in a month, she'd been expecting someone to point a finger at her, shout 'impostor' the moment she'd stepped within the hushed portals of the offices of Milady magazine.
She'd never meant to take it this far.
Never expected to get this far. Wouldn't be here if the idea of her contribut- ing saleable copy to a magazine aimed directly at ladies who, in between chauffeuring their offspring about in top-of-the-range 4x4s, lunched, gossiped and shopped hadn't produced such howls of mirth at her writers' group.
She'd set out to show them--show herself, maybe--that while she might miss the magazine's target audience by a mile, she was professional enough to write whatever was required.
And she'd done it.
She'd read a dozen or so back copies of the magazine, looked for a gap that she could fill, and 'Lady Gabriella's Journal' had been the result.
Written in the crisp, upper-class style of the magazine, she'd offered the jottings of the 'perfect' reader. Highlights in the life of a woman with three children, several well-bred and perfectly behaved dogs, and all the time in the world to devote to interior design, her garden, entertaining and sitting on worthy committees. "Lady Gabriella' was, of course, married to a man with the means to pay for it all.
She'd actually enjoyed writing it, vicariously living a completely different life if only on paper. Having no trouble at all imagining herself the 'lady of the house' rather than simply caretaking the place during the owner's absence.
Then, since she'd done the work, she'd submitted it to the magazine, enclosing some of her doodly drawings as an afterthought--an impression of the gothic turret that adorned one end of the house, the cat sitting in the deep embrasure of an arched window, a toddler (Lady G's youngest)--expecting a swift thanks-butno-thanks return in the self-addressed envelope provided for the purpose. She'd had enough of them to know the form. But if you didn't try, if you didn't pursue a dream, hunt it down until there was no breath left in your body, let chances slip by, then what was the point?
The letter, addressed to Lady Gabriella March, inviting her for a 'chat', should have been enough. She would show it to the writers' group and take a bow, point proved. Except it wasn't.
This was a never-to-be-repeated chance to talk to the editor of a famous, if fading, magazine-- which was why she was here, in the office of Jennifer Cochrane, a woman of advanced years but formidable character, who had the style, diction and classic wardrobe--including the mandatory double row of pearls--of one of the minor royals. One of the seriously scary ones.
Transformed by her disapproving sister, Stacey, into Lady Gabriella March for the day, it took all her concentration to put down the cup she was holding without spilling the contents over the designer suit that Stacey--another formidable woman--had lent her for the occasion. To then stand up and cross the inches-deep carpet in precariously high heels--also her sister's--without falling flat on her face.